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I thought you’d get a kick out of seeing some photos from Dottie’s birthday party.

We’ll start with the amazing scenery, near Sedona, Arizona:

It was a beautiful day. Big fluffy white clouds drifting aimlessly across a pretty blue sky. Arizona is nothing if not beautiful.

The real fun was at Cindy’s house. Cindy is one of Dottie’s daughters, and they live together. There were only a handful of us, and we were very mindful of the pandemic – each of us is fully vaccinated and had a negative covid test before the party. If the world were different and Dottie was allowed to invite all of her friends, I’m sure the gathering would’ve been quite the raucous affair! We had to keep it small for everyone’s safety, but particularly Dottie’s. Obviously.

Here’s the party girl herself:

If I had an image in my mind of what age 95 looks like, it wasn’t this!

Here’s a closer look at the cake, which is a photo of Dottie when she was around 30 years old (she had six kids at the time of the photo):

What a looker! And I’m not talking about the cake!

Here she is on Saturday with daughter Cindy:

I love that photo!

And with me:

I know you’re dying to know. Her shirt says, “I’m an August woman, I was born with my heart on my sleeve, a fire in my soul, and a mouth I can’t control!” Haha, it’s perfect!

We had lots of laughs, good food, and great conversations. Dottie attracts wonderful people, so it was a lovely day in honor of an amazing woman.

Happy birthday Dottie! I love you!

Look who turned 94 yesterday!

Our very own Expert Dottie! (Such a cute photo, thanks to her daughter Cindy for sharing it with me!)

Dottie’s doing well, living in Sedona, surrounded by tons of friends, charming everyone she encounters, as usual. She is staying as safe as she can during these crazy times (as are her friends). She’s receiving great care from folks who take safety very seriously. And of course, she has the support of her loving family as well.

I hope everyone will join me in wishing her another happy year around the sun. Leave your messages in the comments section, and I’ll be sure to pass them along to her.

I also hope all of you are staying safe out there!


Helloooooo! My goodness, I suppose it’s been awhile since I posted anything! I didn’t mean to let so much time pass between posts…I put the blog on the back burner, then over time, it got moved to the back 40 burner, haha.

How are you? Doing well, I hope.

I’m fine, thanks for asking. Life in Phoenix is ok. Although we’re supposed to hit triple digits later this week and it’s only April. That has me concerned. But otherwise, things are good!

I’ve driven through the mountains east of Phoenix twice in the last six weeks, and each time I didn’t have my camera with me. Which was a shame, as the wildflowers looked gorgeous in the foothills. So yesterday I packed up my camera and took off in search of color in the desert.

I found lots! Look at all the beauties I found blooming, like these Desert Marigolds:

Desert Marigolds, Liza's photos, Good To Grow blog

Such cuties!

I love, love, love the color of Globe Mallow:

Desert Marigolds, Liza's photos, Good To Grow blog

Desert Marigolds, Liza's photos, Good To Grow blog

Even the Prickly Pears were blooming:

Desert Marigolds, Liza's photos, Good To Grow blog

I saw lots of cactus flowers that were hot pink but I couldn’t get close to them with my camera. (Translation – if they weren’t by the side of the road, they weren’t photographed, haha – I wasn’t going to go trekking through the dirt!)

I think this is Thistle, but I have no idea what kind. The bees and I love it though:

Desert Marigolds, Liza's photos, Good To Grow blog

Desert Marigolds, Liza's photos, Good To Grow blog

I don’t know what these purple pretties are but I’m a big fan:

Desert Marigolds, Liza's photos, Good To Grow blog

On one of my drives, I saw some pink flowers that I think were Penstemons. I didn’t see any yesterday – I think they were at a higher elevation than I was willing to go on a Sunday drive.

Besides the wildflowers, the mountains were home to a Saguaro Cactus forest:

Desert Marigolds, Liza's photos, Good To Grow blog

None of my photos do the mountains any justice – they are so beautiful!

Desert Marigolds, Liza's photos, Good To Grow blog

Happy Earth Day everyone!

Ha! I’ve been having trouble with my blog for the last few weeks, so I haven’t been able to post anything. Today it works!

I was getting really sick of seeing that Christmas candy photo. It reminded me that I’ve been negligent with the blog, that I still have lots to explain on how I ended up in Phoenix, and what I’m up to now.

I’ll get there. Thanks for your patience.

For now, I thought I’d share this photo from my backyard – I’m absolutely in love with those Lobelia flowers.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Liza's Lobeila

So pretty!

I hope each of you is well and happy. I’ll try not to let so much time go by before posting again.

The unsung hero of the spring and fall garden.

Beautiful Gaura, Good To Grow, Liza's plants

Hey, hi! I want to update you on my neighbor’s tree. (You can see the original post here.)

Thank you to everyone who offered advice and research assistance to help my adorable and kind neighbor, Randi, with her ailing Fiddle Leaf Fig (Ficus lyrata) tree. I appreciate all the feedback.

I’d like to start by describing Randi a little bit. She’s smart. She’s young. She’s very interested in learning about and loving plants. Her parents love plants and tried to instill the same love in her, and succeeded. She absolutely loved that tree. She babied it, she tended to it, she looked at it every day with pride and affection.

I went with her to pick it out at the nursery (which will remain unnamed). It was healthy (so we thought), it was gorgeous.

She noticed right away when the tree got brown spots on its leaves (she’d only had it in her home for two weeks at that time), and she started researching the problem. But the results she got were confusing. So she turned to me, because she knew that I cared for plants for 14 years with my small business, Good To Grow. I knew immediately that I couldn’t help her by myself – I had little experience with Figs. Whenever I recognize that something isn’t my forte, I have no problem asking for advice. So I asked all of you, and you responded with passion, as I suspected you would.

There is a valid argument that tropical indoor plants shouldn’t be sold in the desert. They will be weakened at the nursery because they were never supposed to be here, and that’s legitimate. But in a modern home, the outside environment doesn’t necessarily influence the health of an indoor plant – we can add humidity, we can add water, we can shield them from the desert sun. In my experience, most indoor plants do fine regardless of the outdoor environment because we have temperature-controlled homes, we can control conditions much better than we could a hundred years ago.

There is also a valid argument on the part of the nursery – they sell what consumers want, whether it’s smart or not. They offer them, people buy them. It’s the reality we live in today. This particular tree is very popular right now because of its beauty and style. So nurseries are going to sell them, whether that nursery is in Minnesota or Arizona.

There is another point to be made here – almost all locally owned nurseries have a no-return policy. That’s because once a plant or tree leaves their care, they don’t know what the consumer does to it. Did she leave it in the car for five days? Did he leave it out in the sun for three days? Did she or he forget to water it once they got it home? I understand their point of view. It’s valid. Home Depot will replace your dead plants within a year if you have your receipt, but local nurseries can’t afford that financial hit. I understand that.

So here I come in, and she asked for my help, and I saw that she had a problem. I didn’t necessarily know how to solve it, but I knew I had to try. I didn’t want to extinguish a burgeoning love of plants of a young person – I didn’t want her to have a negative experience that was based on something that was not her fault. Plus, she paid $126 for this tree – that’s too expensive. Especially if the plant already had a problem without her prior knowledge.

Armed with your research and hers and mine, we took the tree back to the nursery and talked to the man that I had previously spoken with on the phone about the virus. In person at the nursery, first, he tried to insist the spots were from sunburn. (Again, he didn’t want to refund the money from that tree, for the aforementioned reasons.) Randi politely explained that the leaves with the spots faced a wall and not a window, so that wasn’t possible. We went round and round with him, until I finally asked to see the other Fiddle Leaf Figs in the greenhouse.

He led us there. That’s when I noticed the brown spots on almost all the other trees. The virus was sweeping the crop. I pointed out leaves that were riddled with brown spots, and he told me that they were caused by sunburn. Mind you, the trees were in a giant greenhouse so they didn’t get direct sunlight, but whatever. I persisted – sunburnt leaves look different- he knew it, and I knew it. He retorted that if it were a virus, there would be residue on the leaves that indicated a problem. Residue? Hmmm. Not in my experience. Scale insects leave waxy shit, but viruses? I told him that I disagreed. According to Michigan State University professors, viruses are internal, but there is some ooze when there’s a bacterial infection. So maybe he was thinking of bacteria when he told me there should be residue. My gut (and our collective research) told me that this was an internal virus, and that his information was not correct. Also, my bullshit meter was going off – he really didn’t want to refund Randi’s money, so he was going to keep trying to say it was not their fault. I should make it clear that this person had 17 years of experience with plants – so I didn’t want to fight with him, but I kinda did – I have 14 years experience, and a wealth of expert advisors (you). I persisted.

So he kept insisting it was sunburn, and I kept insisting it was leaf spot disease. I advised him he needed to do something about it. Randi could’ve chopped her plant to pieces to remove the infected branches, but that would’ve ruined the look of her whole tree. Four out of five branches were infected. She bought that tree for it’s round shape, because she believes, as I do, that aesthetics matter.

The whole time he and I were “arguing” (it was very polite and non-confrontational, but it was a dance of opposing views), I kept whispering to Randi, “do you want to get another tree or not?” She couldn’t decide, because she was out of her element, and she’s shy, and she had other considerations (e.g., she was considering moving out of state and I asked her how much room she had in her car or a u-haul for a tree), and also because she wanted to be neutral. Randi wanted to be Switzerland. I understood that, so I kept “fighting” on her behalf because I saw the injustice in this process, and didn’t want to let it go. She needed an advocate, and I wanted to represent her.

Eventually, I called it a stalemate and the three of us walked up to the cashier together. That’s when the guy asked if she wanted a replacement tree that was right by the front gate (it looked healthy and beautiful, but was also too big to fit in my car, much less her apartment) or did she want in-store credit. When I heard him mention credit, I giggled to myself– if she’s moving out of state, what is she going to do with in-store credit? Also, who wants in-store credit at a plant nursery? No one – it’s not Crate and Barrel.

I pretended not to hear him and said (or maybe I shouted gleefully), “She’s got a receipt.” I think in that moment, he knew it was all over.

So he walked behind the counter and asked for her card so he could refund her sales price in full. And then he gave her $126 dollars back on to her debit card.

Victory feels good.

I didn’t take photos of the other diseased trees at the nursery. I didn’t think it was appropriate – I don’t want to shame anyone. It’s not my way.

In the end, I’m happy that justice was served. She was a consumer who unknowingly bought a defective product (a sick tree) and the local business (reluctantly but finally) refunded her money, as it rightfully should’ve.

I can’t thank you enough for the dialogue you provided that led to this nice outcome. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart! It makes my soul happy to have this venue to connect with others who care about plants.

Randi says thank you, as well.

Hey look, here are some flowers to distract you from the truth. It’s the way we live today.

Liza's photos, Good To Grow














My sweet neighbor Randi bought a beautiful Fiddle Leaf Fig (Ficus Lyrata) about a month ago. She recently noticed spots on some of the leaves, and asked me for help.

Here’s what one of leaves looks like:


I’m not terribly familiar with her tree. I like how Fiddle Leaf Figs look. I like how they make a corner pop. But I’ve never grown one. Never even cared for one during 14 years of caring for interior plants.

There is a ton of conflicting information on the Web, so I’m hoping that with your help, we can clarify the problem and subsequent solution.

I look at a leaf with spots like that and my gut says, that’s not a water issue. If it was overwatered, the brown spots would most likely be around the edges of the leaf, not in the middle. If it was underwatered, the whole leaf would turn brown. They’re not bruises – those would be more obvious (leaves can get damaged, for example, from the car-ride home from the nursery).

What do you think? Do you have experience with these types of trees? If so, please leave a comment, and I’ll pass your knowledge along to Randi. Thank you!


Life in the low desert.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Thunbergia flowers in January

Patio flowers in January.

Look at these adorable pots I scored as a Christmas present from Mom:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, new plants for the new year

I love them! She got them from They have lots of beautiful gifts.

I also got some cuttings from Mom’s plants, so yesterday I finally potted them. I’m very happy with the outcome.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, new plants for the new year

Here they are in their new home, in front of an east window:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, new plants for the new year

Thanks, Mom!

Heyyyy, look who decided to bloom on Christmas Eve:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Christmas Eve Thunbergia bloom

Phoenix is weird.

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About Me

Hi! My name is Liza. Welcome to my blog and thanks for visiting! I'm a Midwestern gal now living in Arizona, after many years of living in and owning a plant care business in New Mexico.

Plants are living, breathing creatures, and if they're indoor plants, they are 100% dependent on human care. They cannot water themselves.

I can beautify your home, office, or patio with plants and flowers. I have 13 years of experience growing plants, and friendships.

Please let me know if you have questions or if you would like help with your plants or garden. You can reach me at lizatheplantlady (at) gmail (dot) com or follow me on Twitter, Lizawheeler7.

All photos are mine unless otherwise noted. All content is also entirely my hard work. If you'd like to use any content or photos, all you have to do is ask. If you take without asking, you are a thief. And thieves suck. So don't suck. We have a deal? Good.